Pitch advantage not a big factor, says Cummins

Pitch advantage not a big factor, says Cummins

The 2023 ODI World Cup final between India and Australia will be played on the No. 5 pitch of the Narendra Modi Stadium, the surface that was used for the India-Pakistan match.

India won that game in 73 overs, but it was played on October 14, when the weather was hot and dry. A little over a month later, Ahmedabad is feeling winter cold, the nights are cooler and there is much more dew. Step no. 5 has been watered, rolled and watered. The curator believes that it will now retain a little more moisture.

India captain and coach Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid spent considerable time fieldside during India’s optional nets on Friday night. Australia arrived in Ahmedabad on Friday night and had their first and only training session before the final early Saturday morning.

And when Australia captain Pat Cummins suited up for the pre-match press conference, the first question was about the 22 yards.

“Have you seen the wicket, Pat?”

“Yes, I just took a look.”

“What did you do with that?”

“Again, I’m not a big pitch reader, but it looked pretty firm. They’ve just watered it, so yeah, give it another 24 hours and have a look at it, but it looks like a pretty good wicket.”

“Has it been used before?”

“Yes, I think Pakistan played against someone there.”

“So how do you expect it to perform compared to Kolkata?”

“Yeah, it’s hard to say, I think there’s been a little bit higher scoring here throughout the tournament. Yeah, it’s been a pretty good ground, so yeah, it’s hard to say.”

Cummins was asked about the challenges of bowling on pitches like these, typical of the subcontinent, where there is wear and tear much earlier in the game than in Australia. He said considerable time spent in India over the past year had helped him familiarize himself with the conditions.

“There are certainly some advantages to playing on your own ground in your own country, similar to the grounds you have played on all your life. But we have played a lot of cricket here.”

Pat Cummins

“You have to be brave with some of the balls you use, slower balls, bounces, you have to find the balance between mixing it up but also not chasing too much,” Cummins said. “I think we’ve struck that balance quite well and at least here in India, a lot of times at the end of the innings, things like cutters work maybe better than in other parts of the world.”

“Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to say,” he said. “It’s obviously the same for both teams. There are certainly some advantages to playing on your own ground in your own country, similar to the grounds you’ve been playing on all your life. But we’ve played a lot of cricket here.

“So, yes, we will wait and see. I think, of all places, maybe this place, the draw is not as important as, say, a Wankhede stadium in Mumbai or other places. So we will be ready in terms of any whatever they throw at us. Yes, we’ll wait and see, but we’ll make sure we have some plans.”

Shashank Kishore is Senior Deputy Editor at ESPNcricinfo